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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

May 10, 2018

Moviegoing Used To Be The Cheapest Form Of Entertainment For Pinoys. But Now, Few People Watch Movies In Theaters. What Happened?

THERE WAS a time when going to the movies was the favorite pasttime of us Filipinos. In the 60 to the early 90s, you’d see filmgoers forming long lines at the ticket booths of stand alone movie palaces, especially along Avenida Rizal where they have Galaxy, Odeon, Avenue, Ideal, Ever, Universal, etc. They line up to watch the movies they like, the cinema then being our cheapest form of entertainment.

But that is now a thing of the past. Action movies that attract so many fans have lost their appeal and action stars lost their jobs. Even sexy movies that used to rake it in no longer has any attraction to the public because pornography is so easily available in the internet, even on your cellphone.

Actually, it’s the cellphone that has now become the cheapest form of entertainment. People would rather spend their money for cellphone load so they can do texting, call their loved ones, play games, surf the internet for hours, even watch movies. Poor people cannot afford anymore the prohibitive price of movie tickets, which can be anywhere from P200 to P280.

It doesn’t meant, though, that people have lost their interest in movies, because they would still watch big Hollywood flicks like “Avengers: Infinity War”, which is well on its way to earning P1 billion! But that is what may be considered an event movie. Diehard fans of Marvel Superheroes really want to see the greatest assembly of their favorite superheroes in one movie.

“Avengers” really ruled the box office for two weeks, decimating the chances of local films like “DOTGA” and “Single Single” that were quickly clobbered at the tills. “Single Single” was quickly wiped out. We were looking for it in the malls and it was totally gone. How sad for Philippine Star that their first co-production flick with Star Cinema is a resounding flop. We hope the local films that opened this week, “My 2 Mommies” from Regal and “Squad Goals” from Viva, would fare better.

Moviegoing now is dominated by mall cinemas, specially the chain of SM Cinemas all over the country. SM has become a big monopoly. It killed many small grocery and sari-sari stores, especially in the provinces where there are no malls before, and then it killed all stand alone cinemas.

Now, they can dictate what they want from the producers. We’re told they’re demanding an even bigger cut or percentage from the box office returns of movies shown in their theatres. What if producers would stop making films? What will they show in their big cavernous theatres? Small Hollywood films that cater to only a few people since they are not even promoted locally?

We’ve gone to see even Oscar-winning films like “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and you can count the people inside the cinema. Even the movies of former superstars like Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone now lay big fat eggs at the box office. LIke what we said, people flock only to action superheroes extravaganzas and they ignore the other Hollywood releases.